Monday, August 13, 2007

The art of reperceiving: scenarios and the future - Commentary


The challenge for strategic planners is to help decision makers understand what the future security environment might look like, to affect their perceptions, in essence, to help them "reperceive." Wack, who gained some fame as a strategic planner during the oil crises of the 1970s with his ability to get the senior executives in Shell Oil to understand what might happen in the energy business, wrote in the Harvard Business Review some years later:

Scenarios deal with two worlds: the world of facts and the world of
perceptions. They explore the facts but they aim at perceptions
inside the heads of decision makers. Their purpose is to gather and
transform information of strategic significance into fresh
perceptions. This transformation process is not trivial--more often
than not it does not happen. When it works, it is a creative
experience that generates a heartfelt "Aha!" from you ... [decision
makers] and leads to strategic insights beyond the mind's previous

Pierre Wack, "Scenarios: Shooting the Rapids: How Medium-Term Analysis Illuminated the Power of Scenarios for Shell Management," Harvard Business Review (November-December 1985)